Why Your Vet Doesn't Trust You When You Promise That Your Dog Won't Bite

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You know your dog best, right? Then why is it that your veterinarian and her staff insist on taking precautions, like muzzling your pet, even when you promise them that he won’t bite? It’s simple: because there’s hardly a veterinarian in practice who doesn’t bear the scars of dog bites gotten after just such a reassurance from a well-meaning owner. 

It’s not that we think you're not telling the truth. We know you are, as far as your experience with your dog under normal conditions for you both goes. But remember that we see a lot of pets, and we know that all dogs have the capacity to bite, especially when in pain or in fear. And guess what? Try as we may to avoid causing either, it’s inevitable that some pets will be afraid of a veterinary visit, or will be in pain while in our care. And one more thing: Sometimes your anxiety will add to your dog’s, making him even more likely to nail what he sees as the problem — the nearest veterinarian or veterinary technician.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Even a “minor” bite is a serious problem — for us, of course, but also for you and, potentially, your pet. We are required to report any bites to animal control authorities, and if your dog has a history of biting or isn’t current on his rabies vaccine, the law isn’t very kind. Worst-case scenario: Your pet may be facing euthanasia, for what could have been a preventable incident.

As for the person who has been bitten, the situation can also be grim. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians have been injured severely enough on the job to be hospitalized, and a well-placed bite on a surgeon’s hand can be career-ending. And that’s without factoring in the pain, lost wages and other problems related to any workplace injury.

Take all this into account, and you can well understand why we reach for a comfortable soft muzzle to keep everyone safe when we have even the slightest suspicion that a pet may lash out. Your pet will not be hurt if we put a muzzle on him, and that makes it a better option for everyone. Better safe than sorry, any day.

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